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The Blairite party-within-a-party recognises its lack of support at grassrooots level

NEC electionsTwo months ago we questioned whether the Blairite party-within-a-party, Progress, would be able sustain its alliance with the more traditional Labour right-wing faction, Labour First, whose leading members are John Spellar MP and Luke Akehurst. The combination of a growing political gulf between the two organisations, especially over primaries and the role of trade unions in the Labour Party, and the realisation that Progress faced an embarrassing defeat seems to have sealed the end of their electoral alliance in internal party elections.

Having advertised for candidates to apply for endorsement as NEC candidates by their elected strategy board last November (in a process designed to convey the appearance of transparency and internal democracy), it finally emerged this week that they have decided to back two candidates:

  1. Florence Nosegbe, a Lambeth councillor who was their top placed candidate last time with 12,745 votes, almost 5,000 votes and four places behind the highest placed losing candidate, Kate Osamor, who was also a first time candidate on the Centre-left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA) slate.
  2. Kevin Peel, a Manchester City councillor and former member of the Young Labour national committee who has not stood before.

However, rather than backing them as Progress candidates on a joint slate with Labour First as in previous years, they have merely tweeted their endorsement, wishing them “#goodluck” on their ‘mission impossible’, a dicey project requiring maximum distance and deniability:

Progress clearly recognise that their candidates stand no chance of winning. A Labour First source confirms that they are not expected to receive sufficient nominations to mount a credible challenge. They have no obvious supporter amongst the 33 current members of the Labour executive other than the Young Labour representative.

They have little grassroots support other than in the Blairite machine, created under New Labour and surviving intact, to provide a career(ist) structure for Labour Students plucked by Progress, backed for student union posts, placed in part-time jobs working for Labour MPs, helped into full-time jobs as more senior bag-carriers, advisers to council Labour groups or party campaign posts, helped in council selections and, for those who play the game and never step out of line, eventually, parliamentary selections.

They have no power base within the party other than in the parliamentary party. And then only because of the success of this secret and deeply corrupting career structure for ambitious ‘Labour Students‘, and the ability of Blairite barons to promote their own SpAds and protégés. Many of them now oppose the introduction of OMOV elections, as they did over elections to the national policy forum, because they know that they will struggle to get their candidates elected. They even resort to such absurd tactics as arguing that OMOV elections discriminate against women.

The two NEC candidates on their own websites and materials make no mention of their Progress backing and although they do back each other. Like Progress itself, they also offer no such support for the Labour First candidates, sitting members Ellie Reeves and Peter Wheeler, or hopeful Luke Akehurst.

CLGA Slate 2014Readers who wish to support centre-left candidates for the NEC have until 20 June to get their CLPs to make up to six nominations. Information on the centre-left candidates, who at the last elections received 47% of the votes of individual party members, compared with 33% for the right-wing Progress/Labour First slate and 20% for other candidates, is available here.


  1. John Reid says:

    That’s not technically true, Kevin Peel on his Facebook page,said of the 3 Labour first people who you’ve mentioned Peel, said he’d back some of them, there use to be Joanne Milligan as the forth runner for the NEC from the right of the party, she’s not standing this time,if Labour first aren’t putting up 6 candidate, which I thinks a good. Idea, it means some constituencies like mine may back, Ann Balck or Johanna Baxter as well,

  2. Mike Homfray says:

    I shall not be supporting either of these candidates and think that it would be a good idea if it were known that they are the defacto Progress candidates

  3. Robert says:

    John why do you not Join the Tories mate, are they not right wing enough for you .

  4. John Reid says:

    Mike, O.K but can livinstone ,osamor not call themselves centre left

    Treborc, the reason I haven’t joined the Tori’s is because I don’t agree with what they stand form saying that, if labour had never swung from the far left to the centre, to win elections and we’d been out of power for 36 years, the Tories may have been either more right wing than they were.

  5. James Martin says:

    Oh John, what larks eh! So do you not recognise the Clem Atlee government of 1945 as one of our best and most popular? You know, the one that created the NHS, state education, nationalised the failing railways and other key industries?

    Bit of a problem for you though eh John boy, cos despite of just coming out of a national government with the Tories it was anything but a programme of the ‘centre’ wasn’t it? Or haven’t you noticed that the more the main parties all try and be of the ‘centre’ the more the rest of the population is turned of politics and thinks (not incorrectly) that voting is something of a scam?

  6. Rod says:

    How is it relevant to persist with the ‘party-within-a-party’ tag when the policies favoured by the Labour Party leadership are identical with those of the so-called ‘party-within-a-party.’?

    In truth, the ‘party-within-a-party’ is now the Party.

    And if you don’t like the policies, for crying out loud, don’t vote for them.

  7. John reid says:

    James Martin ot sure what you’re talking about, I mentioned that labour had to swing from far left to the centre, to win in 97′ after the previous defeats, remind me, wasn’t it labour that started our un euro weapon policy in 1945′ I don’t recall the 45 manifesto having nationalising the banks, or getting rid of the police, or Nortern Ireland leaving the U.K

  8. swatantra says:

    Progress is not a ‘Party within a Party’, as Mili,ant was; its just a muted voice of the right of centre wing of the Labour Party’ and it has some interesting ideas. It does not want to hijack anybody’s Agenda.

  9. John Reid says:

    Hs t a couple of comments disappeared from this thread! oh well probably explains! why the latest opinion polls have us on 34%

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